tv Brookings Institution Examines Trump Administration Defense Priorities CSPAN March 6, 2017 6:01pm-7:38pm EST
home phageage and by searching video library. next, a look at how the trump administration might approach defense policies. speakers include two former pentagon officials who work for the obama administration. they discuss spending priorities, military readiness and relations with u.s. allies. from the brookings institution this is just over an hour and a half. welcome to brookings. we are very grateful to have all of you here today. we will be talking about what should donald trump's defense strategy, budget and other military plans be looking forward for the united states at a moment when the trump administration is still asking itself these questions and a lot of decisions haven't been made. we have about as great of a team to help answer the questions as i could imagine and looking forward as well as they are to discussion with you in the second half of this morning's
forum. let me introduce each of the gentlemen here and then i will say a couple of broad words about where we stand in the defense budget to allow them to take off from where i leave off. we will have broad discussion among ourselves and go to you about half way through. immediately to my left is former under secretary of defense who is pentagon's comptroller. bob has been through the battles of not only iraq and afghanistan but sequestration and shut down and has pretty much seen it all in the obama years where he was the comptroller for most of that period of time. he has been with hamilton but speaking today under his own and is also my former boss. i worked for him at the congressional budget office. after that -- reflects badly in two ways by the time -- but as things turned out bob went to
the air force and was comptroller throughout the clinton administration and spent a number of years in various pursuits. and then tom wright is sitting in the middle today. tom is my colleague at brookings, one of the most outstanding young strategists and big picture in american foreign policy today. i may be biassed but i think it is fair comment and you will have the chance to evaluate for yourself not only this morning but when his new book comes out later this spring "all measures short of war." let's hope that is what we will all be talking about today and hopefully be talking about more about military deterrence and capability and keeping the peace than fighting the next big war. of course, we still are a nation in combat in the middle east in particular and so we will have a lot of specific issues with military operations to discuss. that's where retired lieutenant
general mike muller will be helpful, too. general muller had a distinguished career in the u.s. air force as a bomber pilot, as a strategy and operations planner in southern command and central command. he was the head of j 5 for both of those regional military commands and worked with general petraeus and others on key issues in our western hemisphere and the broader middle east in those tours and he finished his uniform career within the air force thinking about their future, program requirements and budgetary requirements. we have everything from grand strategy to operational concepts of war, military modernization issues, pentagon budget issues all within the realm of expertise. i want to frame the discussion with one more word of introduction and then start with big picture question to each of these gentlemen before we mix it up a little.
and let me just frame for you especially for a more general audience that might not be following these day in and day out where we stand today in our u.s. defense budget to date. it is about $600 billion a year. that includes war costs which are formally about 60 billion annually although as bob may discuss and as many of us know, some of that 60 billion covers things that are in a gray area between overseas contingencies and peace time operations or peace time base budget, in other words, the contingency war funds being used to some extent to compensate for a pentagon budget under strain and not quite able to get everything within the caps of the budget control act. one more word we know it is still in effect. the 2011 law that put caps on defense and discretionary spending. even with seismic events of
american politics the budget control act has survived. it survived an inauguration of donald trump and many other things that many of us didn't think would happen. the possibility of a return to sequestration remains. and in addition there are possibilities of returns to other problems like government shutdowns like we have seen before. the 600 billion is a good number to keep in mind the base plus war costs and includes department of energy nuclear weapons cost. it is sort of a reference point. donald trump's campaign promise to build up the military by roughly 15% in size more or less would probably push us to an annual budget of at least $700 billion, maybe more if you built up fast and put a lot of money into procurement and if you feel there is a huge readiness crisis. i wrote a book advocating for
$650 billion u.s. annual budget for these costs. i called that the best bargain going. it would still be a lot of money and for reference the cold war average u.s. defense budget if you adjust for inflation and express in 2017 dollars the average was 25 billion. war cost department of energy. we are above the cold war average today. but, of course, a good part of the reason is we have a lot higher cost per person, more sophisticated military, more expensive military because we are trying to do a good job of taking care of an all volunteer force through so much strain, equipment that is aging and difficult to maintain, base infrastructure that remains larger than it needs to be for the size of the force. our force has come down by 35% to 40% since the cold war. the budget has not come down as
much. the budget is still above that average. i want to frame this for you in big picture terms. we have a small but expensive military. however, one last word just to frame things, it's expensive in absolute dollar terms relative to the size of our economy it is pretty modest just over 3% of gross domestic product. when the cold war average is typically 6%, 8%, even 10%. so as a fraction of our nation's economy defense is modest. as a fraction of government spending it is one-sixth of the total. we still have a huge deficit and therefore all government programs will have to be watched vigilantly and carefully even in a trump administration that wants to make america great again and make the military great again. so thank you for tolerating that primmer and now let me begin by asking tom wright a big picture
question, having read the book already i know he is concerned about the state of the world and wants to shore up american power and reinforce deterrence of russia and china. i want to invite you to explain about where you think we are and specifically what does the defense budget have to do with it? how do you see in broad picture terms the role of u.s. military spending and capability in hopefully deterring the war and keeping us, as you say, dealing with all measures short of war especially for dealing with russia and china and other big picture threats? >> thank you. it's a great pleasure to be here today. it's a great question. the way i would think about it is we are very -- everyone is very concerned at the moment because of the president's sort of views on u.s. foreign policy and at a moment of discontinuity are some things going to change. on november 7, the day before
the election, the world wasn't in terrific shape and the u.s. had very severe strategic problems and the next president was going to confront anyway regardless of whether it was trump or clinton. i think we need to look at those broader forces to get the sense of the type of strategic problems that the administration faces. part of them are budgetitary problems but strategic problems separate to that. those problems still remain. i think what really sort of happened is over the last five or six years, the post cold war assumptions that we have had about the world have come apart. since the cold war we operated under the assumption that we were living in an age of convergence. all major powers were transitioning towards a single model of international order, the problems that they had in common like terrorism or climate
change or pandemic diseases would be much more important than that which divided them. and that they would be working together to try to overcome collective action problems and that there would be lots of issues but that overtime and they would be working more cl e closely together. we saw that great cooperation throughout the '90s and 2000s. there were differences pretty minor when russia -- they didn't intervene in iraq and objected at the security council very different than in syria over the last couple of years. i think the big sort of story of the last five or six years is instead of convergence we had significant divergence. russia and china have gone in a very different direction and are directly balancing against the united states. for 20 years there was nobody in security balancing major powers against the united states in the way that it has traditionally
understood throughout history. that is back very much at the regional level and in the middle east both president bush and president obama basically believed in different ways they could change the middle east. bush by intervention, obama through indigenous change. both of those hopes are dead so there is divergence there. i think the president's national security team's challenge is to figure out what is america's purpose in this new world. what are the primary problems and primary objectives. and as i look at it the real challenges are in these three key regions. the international order does not rest on international institutions or international law. the reason why u.s. strategy has been successful is because there is a healthy regional order that functioned since the late '40s and even more so since 1991 and in asia and middle east is a
different case. there is some sort of equilibrium there. those orders are deteriorating for different reasons but they are all deteriorating simultaneously. does the president want to bolster those orders and position in those regions and try to transition to sort of a positive equilibrium even if it is different than what we have today. i think that is a real challenge. militarily in terms of defense strategy because this is a broad issue economically, i would just highlight one problem that i think is very severe which is the problem of deal wg ing with revisions. if you look at revisionist behavior tend to go after things that the major status quo power regards as peripheral. they never go after something
incredibly important at the beginning. it is usually something like crimea or rocks in the south china sea. they say do you want tojeopardize our entire relationship because you want to go to conflict over this. of course, the status quo power doesn't know what to do in that situation. those problems may be nonvital individually. they are quite important so they are particularly vital if you take them all together. that's i think the challenge that obama had and really struggled to deal with. he did not want to jeopardize the paris climate deal over the south china sea and didn't want to have the russia relationship defined by ukraine. that gives an opportunity to the states to make moves. trump has the same problem. i think that is something that i hope secretary mattis and new national security adviser will focus on how to push back without creating crisis over the issues but to push back in
totality and that denies them their strategic objective and reinforces the existing status quo and regional order but doesn't get to a conflict. just one final point on the title because you mentioned all measures short of war. that is not that war is impossible because i think it is very much possible but that all of the major powers are challenging each other. none of them want to have a direct conflict. russia is challenging the united states and europe. it does not want to go to war with the united states. you have all of this very severe competition beneath the threshold of massive aggression. that could easily through miscalculation end up in major conflict. that is not their intention. we are likely to have a prolonged period of peace time competition which is different than period of peace time cooperation. >> one follow up with you if i could before going to bob and
mike. it concerns the linkage between problems you are talking about and the defense budget of the united states. i don't know in listening to your argument if you see the importance of the defense budget as all that central. we are spending $600 billion a year. if we have a return to sequestration we would be at $550 or something. china's just under $200 billion a year by best estimates. russia now the deterioration of exchange rates and sanctions imposed after seizure of crimea is 75 billion. in terms of actual big picture one could argue because we have rich allies that we are in pretty good shape. do you think that the defense budget has much to do with deterring russia and china? is it more about sending a message of strength or more about the way we manage the specific regions that we are dealing with.
carriers going through the south china sea. battalions and brigades or does the overall defense budget have something to do with it? >> my view of being what the united states needs to do more. i think you can't do that with the existing budget. it needs to be -- there needs to be an increase. i would defer to the panel and yourself who are more expert on the numbers as precisely watt that would be. i think the case for an increase is very strong. i would say the overall numbers i think are quite deceptive. the whole thing about who is rising or declining or who is overall powerful or who is not we really don't know a baseline about that. it's not -- it is much less important what the overall numbers are and much more important at the type of power that the two countries can bring
to bear in any given crisis and that russia will probably start. russia actually has an advantage in that. ukraine the balance of power looks different than it does in the overall amount in terms of the raw numbers. similarly in the south china sea. i prefer to think about it less in terms of what the raw numbers are overall in terms of how this will play out in a crisis situation and look at advantages and disadvantages that each country will have. i think this waill play out in granular way.
the biggest one being what do you think the defense strategy and posture should be? what should president trump advocate? if you want to break that big question down into more finite chunks you can begin by explaining what it would cost just to fully funded president obama's budget plan as he left office a couple years after you had stepped down from the comptroller job. that issue of what would the obama plan cost relative to where we are and what kind of realistic option should president trump be contemplating? >> i will play politician here. how this administration will
handle the budget control act. we will see a budget amendment i hope soon from this administration for fiscal year '17. probably substantial. i don't know what it will be but tens of billions i would expect. fiscal '18 budget somewhat later. in terms of priorities i would expect they will follow some of what secretary mattis and the secretary said. he said russia is the biggest threat to u.s. security. i would expect we would see support for things like european reassurance initiative which helps counter deployments in eastern europe. president trump has said isis, isis, isis. we will see emphasis continued on special operation forces which will be key i would assume to any further work against isis. he said readiness is a big issue. the narrow definition pilot
training hours, vehicle miles. i would think we will see some plus. they have to be careful in the budget amendment because the amendment will get approved with maybe five months left. that money has to be obligated. i think they will have to be modest. i would hope we see them think about readiness not just training but also the longer term needs of modernizing a force to contend against future foes. procurement hasn't faired well almost always the way the pentagon reacts to down turns in the budget and it happened again this time. we do need increases in procurement. i would hope we would see some of that in this budget maempt. he said or promised an aggressive program of business reform in the department of defense continuing what i believe was aggressive in the obama administration.
probably too early to expect specifics in the amendment and maybe some indication of commitments to things that will be contentious with the problem being seeing more specifics in the fiscal '18 budget. so that's a sensitive priority. let me turn to how they handle budget control act. any additions will violate the budget control act. the requested up there is right at the x limit. there are several ways to handle this. one way would be to repeal at least defense portions of it or declare all money in the '17 budget amendment emergency funding. it would increase the deficit which remains substantial or nearly full employment. we are thinking of balancing the budget over a business cycle
probably running surpluses. hope they don't do that. a second way would be -- the problem there is many agencies contribute in significant ways. think about department of homeland security. think about state department, fbi, about half of department of energy's budget is security administration which maintains the nuclear stock pile. so big cuts even leaving aside the other issues that the country faces would have adverse effects on national security. i hope what they do is move towards a major budget yield thatopethens aperture and considers entitlements we need the whole down growth. if we are every at the deficit and free up needs and also
revenues. maybe fees or loop hole closing or other methods. we need to broaden the apture as a way to pay for defense and other needs like infrastructure. those are priorities and the way i hope they will handle the budget control act. >> i will ask for additional on the state of readiness and procurement. there are needs in both areas. because you have watched the debates i was hoping you could situate us without getting into details of numbers or comparisons. if we look over the years that you and i have been watching this process ask you have been part of it so centrally, in the 1970s we talked about hollow force, the military that was in many ways broken after vietnam and didn't have the right people to fill out its ranks, went
through long stretches. we saw ronald reagan's build up and then readiness was debated. the force looked good. then we saw 15 years of intense war and a lot of strain on people in particular and good to give you and others cred pretty good cooperation despite budget control act and sequestration and shut downs. so i would just love to hear your take on just how good or bad readiness is today in big picture terms. i am talking about day to day preparation for responsibilities and then procurement. you said it tends to take a hit and tends to sometimes be the piggy bank for other needs. the budget is over $100 million a year. so not at the depths of despair
that we were then. just how much help does the procurement budget need. >> we have heard on readiness. there is money available right now. it is harder to give out money than to cut it. this is a time when services want to put their worst foot forward and make clear on all of the problems that are there. so i think i would be skeptical. there are problems certainly returning to what the service would call full spectrum readiness across a wide variety of missions and not just counter terrorism. i think lack of spare parts in training is a problem. we need added readiness money. the obama administration regularly proposed budgets that were $30 billion higher than congress and the president were able to approve. now we need to fix some of those
problems. a little skepticism but realize there is a small r readiness problem. on procurement it has actually gone down in nominal terms since 2012 as the department reacted to the budget control act. and at the same time we are heading towards a battle wave of needs for procurement. i think the submarine higher rate of procurement. there is the air force bomber, the tanker program and those are big ones. there is all the small stuff, as well, which i think will put enormous pressure on the procurement budget. i think we need increases. it certainly needs to be a major part or procurement needs to be a major part so that we can begin to build the need to meet
this. >> thank you. now i should say that general muller works for united technologies corporation. very important part of the u.s. and defense industrial base and part of the prauroject that we here and supporter of brookings that benefitted over the years. very grateful to have you here. i want to ask you specifically about some operational and modernization requirements. i thought i would give you a chance to comment on where we stand in the conversation already. there is a lot on the table. everything from russia and china to readiness and procurement. i'm sure you have thoughts to share on those issues. >> i was going to tag on to bob's secretary's answer about readiness before i answer any specific question. >> thanks for letting me do that. when we talk about readiness i think the bottom line is that
the services today are incredibly deep and capable when it comes to counter terrorism operations. when it comes to the rest of military operations it is veneer. and it comes down to not just funding. it comes down to two things that are very important. one is time. time for personnel to train, to do exercises across the full spectrum. a good example, there are across all service tlz are units that are required to annually conduct multiple training exercises in the chemical, biological and nuclear environment. before you put your suits on you put your suits on and exercise in that environment. that denied environment over a great period of time. because of combat operations the services have not had time to do that kind of training across the spectrum. it comes down to time for people
to train, to exercise and to actually do professional development because when you are not home it is really difficult to grow personally and professionally. the second component of that is and bob touched on it is the equipment reset. it takes time to get into the system. it takes time to modify equipment that has been essentially used up over the last 15, 16 years. it takes time to do the modifications and upgrades that you need going forward into the new environment that tom talked about. those two are important. the other piece that people don't talk about, we talk a lot about infrastructure, military department of defense infrastructure and how we are essentially oversized for the amount of people and organizations that we have. what we haven't talked a lot about is the services
fundamentally have under funded infrastructure and facilities improvements for the last probably the last decade. what that means is that your infrastructure and facilities are obsolete and it takes time and money to do those repairs. >> a good example from flying organization, if you are an experienced pilot and running from one aircraft to another aircraft the traditional is four to six months and ground -- that
time is not what we talk about in the future there are a number of international partners talking about the f-35 into their military and talk about two simulators and a solo. that's an extreme but the concept of how the u.s. services are going to train as a function of readiness is really, really fundamentally important when we talk about looking to the future. >> thank you. i want to put through a big picture question about modernization, priorities and what they should be. you can take your answer wherever you would like, of course. i guess one thing i am struck by is having these debates about the state of readiness. we are having a big debate about
the deficit and budget control act. of course, in the defense kmu community a lot of debates have been at one level more specific. you are a bomber pilot tlmpt has been a healthy debate about do we put too much emphasis on shorter range platforms. presumably donald trump is not going to multiply that by a factor of ten when he is hoping to get along with president putin. it is a small initiative compared to the size of the russian military. the question is are we thinking big enough there? and then there are vulnerabilities. cyber, for example, where we may not be able to operate systems the way we hope because somebody may get inside them electronicically. given that we should be having more than just a readiness debate, are there words of advice you would provide about how to frame some other kinds of
choices within the top line? what types of platforms? long range versus short range, hardware versus software and cyber. where are your greatest concerns or your greatest areas of recommended greater resources and attention? >> a great question of which i don't think anyone could answer. i will give it at least a good start. let's just turn the budget debate around to something that is fundamentally different. right now the department of defense builds a series of annual budgets that looks out five years. it's really difficult to build a strategic plan and then when you build that series of angled budgets and there is uncertainty about what the funding levels are going to be one year, two years, three years, four years, five years. not to mention no idea anywhere
outside and i'm sure most of you heard the term outside the five year defense plan, no idea what funding levels are going to be. for the department some of the services if not all of the services have started to take a 20-year look of a fiscally constrained plan based on just general guidance from both the obama administration and i believe now from the trump administration and work backwards to get to the five year and then one year. that is really important when we talk about the plus ups that are uncertain when the department would actually see the money and how long will the department be able to sustain that level of funding. if you have a $700 billion defense budget but you only -- the services can only plan for that for three years that is a very difficult to build a comprehensive program that can accomplish the missions that you
talked about over the course of the next 20 years. so that's the first piece is i really think that the department and the national security apparatus needs to take the longer view. that's going to require the support of many, many entities including the congress. it's something that i think we at least have to have in the conversation. as far as what the services, what capabilities the services are going to look at over the long term i think secretary mattis said for fy '19 program, defense program he told the department to focus on increasing capability of joint force for the high end fight. those words are very specific. and what that means is that the
department for the long term is going to look at those capabilities that will defeat a very capable adversary in the 2025 to 2030 timeframe. realize that every program that the department is funding right now, those are the capabilities that you will have in 2025 if you look at eight to ten year acquisition cycle. those major programs are what you will have. what the department has to do is take a look at capabilities you are building through gap analysis including comprehensive cyber review. and then they need to rebuild a robust experimentation program. take the gap analysis. services apply to identify
capabilities for the 2025 to 2030 time. >> two broad questions and now i will ask the panel if anybody wants to comment to do so. speaking of modernization i want to dust off this term third offset that good friend deputy secretary of defense work created and which we spoke about with him here in december i think at our last major brookings defense forum. now we have a new administration. we still have the same deputy secretary of defense for the moment which i find reassuring and a smart decision but i am wondering about the third offset to what extent it is going to be an enduring phrase, what it means and then which elements of obama thinking on this third offset are likely to be sustained or should be sustained by president trump. you already sort of got at this because you weren't using those terms but talking about
capabilities and gaps. so secretary hail i want to start with you and work down the panel as to what does the third offset mean to you? do you see it as a major legacy of the obama administration and therefore which parts are most important to sustain going forward? >> let me start by saying i expect the words will go around, just new administration. it probably never will have the same level of support that ash carter provided. i don't see that in secretary mattis to my knowledge in his confirmation it didn't come up and he didn't mention it in his testimony. that said, i think the department recognizes it needs to look for ways to do advanced research development and to capture what is going on in the private sect skpr make it useful. there was an article that i thought was telling about universities that are teaching short courses or small budgets
to students to figure out ways to solve defense problems. the department is cooperating in this. i hope that in one form or another we keep the defense innovation labs that carter set up on each coast whether they change their name or not is up to them. i hope they keep that idea. so balance is key to defense. part of that is successful defense budget. part of that balance has to be continued emphasis on r&d and finding ways to harness the private sector to meet defense needs. >> i realize this is not the world you live in. for those of you who don't live in this world let me briefly remind you and you can watch the transcript from december on our website if you want. the first offset was the reliance on nuclear weapons in the early post waurld war two period when soviet union was
creating such an imposing conventional threat to europe that we didn't think we could afford to match it tank for tank. the second offset is when nato went high tech in the late '70s and '80s trying to use precision weapons to interfere with the soviets and reinforce in europe and use conventional high technology rather than exclusively nuclear weapons. whether that would have fully worked or not we don't know. certainly those weapons and technologies did well in desert storm and we built on that since. the third offset is the idea of using a suite, a range of high tech capabilities that are developing from cyber to microelectronics to all sorts of other realms to compensate for the distance from which we find ourselves from russia and china even if we in many ways do outmatch them in defense budget and ships and tanks and so forth
although on some of those you can debate whether we outmatch them longer. the third is a broader term. i think you sort of were getting at this when you said you are worried less about top line and more about areas where we have weaknesses or advantages to build further upon. to you want to elaborate? >> i do think it should remain very much a part of the thinking even if secretary hale said the words go away and each administration wants its own way of framing it. but i think if you look at asia as an example in terms of what you mentioned there on the budget side, the administration has talked a lot about building, you know, up the navy and ships over the long term and by having a massive sort of ship building program that that will sort of reassert the balance of power in the region.
in truth it probably will have a limited effect not just because of the time factor but in terms of problems that the u.s. confronts with china are usually very little about the overall naval sort of balance of forces. and about the specific provocations and that beijing may initiate and then the dynamics that that poses and how to respond to it. those i think are likely to be protracted over many, many years. and adversaries, of course, get to play a large role and have a large say in the type of dilemmas that are posed. they try to pose the most difficult ones as possible and will continue to do so. so it's actually about i think hundreds of different strategic decisions that will be taken in the asia pacific about how to respond not just to each individual provocation and more
in the totality of shaping that sort of environment. so if china were to build a reef or an island and put a landing strip on it and it were impossible to deny them access as was mentioned in the hearing because that might be escalating or one of the things that could be done to ensure that that is a strategic liability rather than strategic asset that will be counter productive over a five or ten year period. for me the third offset and the strategic thinking that is going on about how to respond to these challenges is as much about trying to figure out a way to effectively counter and ultimately detar future acts by limiting their asymmetric advantage and coming up with
strategies of our own rather than just engaging in a more traditional sort of ship for ship or daughter for daughter competition. >> excellent. you got at some of these concrete specific issues in your earlier comments. anything you want to add? >> i agree with the panel. one key thing, though, as we grow the capacity and capability of the u.s. military, where you put that increased capability is obviously critically important. rather than have a specific rebalance where you are taking from one theater and putting to another i would argue that the national security strategy needs to take a very hard look at if you are going to increase the size and capability of the u.s. military where do you put that high end capability? is it in the pacific first as you get the capability and then and ensure that you can match
the asymmetric strategies of the theater or do you build two theaters up near simultaneously in order to make sure you have an east and west capability to respond? you add that to the experimentation and initiatives and i think you will find that you will come to a very comprehensive strategy here in the next years. >> my last question. in some ways it is really just a different take on the same issues. i want to ask you all i'm not going to necessarily ask you to critique donald trump's last defense speech where he in many ways build on heritage foundation defense proposal from last year and endorsed various increases in the services, size and capabilities, but i would like to ask you if you were setting up a study right now within the trump administration what other options should be on the table?
what other specific capabilities should be considered besides the ones that trump has put forth? here you can comment on the way i am framing this, too. the way i would look at trump's defense speeches from later part of the fall are basically a fairly standard, mid level defense buildup across the board. that is the way i would sum it up. there is nothing too revolutionary about it. i see it as a 15% increase in the size of most of the services, a little more maybe for the navy. but roughly 15%. as i said earlier it might mean the budget goes up 15% or more. there is full funding of things like tack air modernization. not so much talk of new and innovative forms of war fare but a rising tide will lift budgets. the army and marine corps growing by 10% and 15% but not
with new kinds of units. it looks like a sort of standard mid sized defense buildup. i have two questions. do you agree with my caricature of what we know and if you were framing a debate or an analysis of different options within the trump administration what else should be on the table besides that kind of relatively across the board set of increases? >> well, i think with the new national security adviser in place with general mcmaster and with guidance to the department i think they are only beginning now to work on the national security strategy taking the president's public statements along with obviously his private insights and working and combining that and integrating that into new national security
strategy. i would say that i do believe that this national security strategy needs to ensure that it incorporates all of the domains. i know that is a well used term here. but we as a nation and as the u.s. military, the services are very good at traditional air, land, sea, under sea domains. insuring that you have an integrated cyber strategy as part of this new national security strategy integrated and interwoven from start to finish i think is one area where the president trump's team really needs to focus. >> thank you. >> i think national security strategies tend to work when there is clear guidance from the commander in chief about what he wants to do and the problem to be honest in this administration
is that if that guidance is provided it will be the wrong guidance. his views on foreign policy and defense policy are pretty much pretty much diametrically opposed to his cabinet. they're -- they have very different ideas about it. they are much more traditionalists. his views, which he's described as america first, are essentially to, you know, to do much less with allies. and to sort of to be very skeptical of alliances. to have a much more -- a view on the geoeconomic aspects and to have a pretty positive attitude toward russia and to the russian threat in europe. now, one of the big sort of positive stories i think of the last month or so has been these appointments that he's made which i think have reassured a lot of people, particularly the
appointment of general mcmaster yesterday. but that has put an incoherence at the heart of this administration. and it will be remain very much to be seen how that plays out but i do not believe that those cabinet appointments will be able to fundamentally change his mind so that he plays a constructive role in the process. they won't turn him into the internationalist or a traditionalist, but they'll be able to do a lot of good sort of internally in terms of limiting that effect and ensuring on a day to day basis it's a more traditionalist administration. one final thought on the defense budget aspect of this that you raised. trump going back to the mid '80s has described himself as a militarist. which is a very odd phrase to use. i don't know any hawk that says i'm a militarist, i'm the most militarist person you ever met, but he says that. he wants a very strong defense
budget. but as you i think astutely pointed out in his mind, that s is -- that is usually quite sort of crude in terms of, you know, much more nuclear weapons. more sort of traditional military force and then not really wanting to use it internationally at all. not thinking about a broad base in terms of alliances, but almost a fortress america thing. he measures that as far as we can tell from the different things he said in terms of raw numbers and in terms of missiles and in terms of troops. he sort of look at the top line things. that's why i think he found the navy build-up thing pretty attractive because it was a simplistic way of communicating that strength. the challenge will be -- to go back to the question on the third offset or related matters, the challenge would be to convince him i think that there is a more sort of complex and nuanced way of conveying strength. and that there may be sort of
decisions that need to be taken as part of national security strategy and defense strategy that don't necessarily conform to his preconceived notions but are necessary to tackle this complex and changing environment. now, i do think i'm more optimistic in that than i was maybe six weeks ago because of these different appointments but i do think they have their work cut out for them. >> thank you. >> so i want to take your big picture question and answer it through the lens of a former comptroller. if i were the comptroller right now i'd be saying to the staff, let's look at the dark corners of the budget that haven't gotten much attention or have gotten negative attention and they would be -- and try to fix some of these problems as the budget increases. they would be things like military construction. right now we're spending $6 billion that's probably putting defense over a long term at a hundred year replacement cycle for the building that's not viable so we need higher
levels there. i did it purposely and consciously when i was a comptroller underfunded facilities sustainment restoration and -- facilities maintenance. it's something you can cut quickly when you're a desperate mode like in 2013 in sequestration and all of the services agreed with me and did it. we need to fix that. because if you leave it unfixed, you will have long term problems with facilities. and the other thing i mentioned in terms of dark corners what i call nonmajor procurement about half of the procurement budget doesn't go for all the big ticket stuff we know and love. it goes for munitions and the unexciting stuff that you need to make the military work. i haven't looked at the numbers lately but i suspect it's fared worse. we need to fix the nonmajor procurement. the other thing i'd say to the staff, let's strike while the iron is hot on business reform. we have a business reform president, we have a secretary
who's endorsed this. let's put forth the aggressive proposal, that would include brac. they ought to be involved in the civil service reform that's coming and they ought to look at the mix of people in the military and the department of defense. military, civilian and contractors and ask if it's the right mix. and finally in big ticket items, the department's budgetary lunch is being eaten by operating and support costs. it needs to look for ways to control the costs and be a great thing i think for them to take on as an issue. >> so thank you. we're going to go to you in a second. let me say another word about hr mcmaster, i'm thrilled he was picked and you may be curious about that and what he helped write for the u.s. army. a document called the army operating concept or win in a complex world. he is aware of the broad range of conflicts so if you're looking at mcmaster as an indication of where this administration may go, it's one
more voice in favor of not oversimplifying future combat that would be my one sentence take away. but it remains to be seen as tom points out how the internal debates shake out and who influences which decisions. so if you could, please wait for a microphone after i call on you and please identify yourself. i'm going to take two questions at a time. then we'll go to the panel. if we can start here with the gentleman in the red tie, please. >> hello. tony from inside defense. i wanted to ask a question about the conflict over capacity versus capability. it seems that there's a lot of -- coming from congress right now about getting the forces larger. there was a lot of that during the reagan hearings. and if you look at the defense secretary's january memo for budget guidance, he says that a new force sizing construct will be part of the national strategy. it will be a larger force.
is there concern that the oem and personal costs would eat into procurement and basically just have a hollow build-up? >> great. that's one question. let's take one more before we go to the panelists. gentleman here in the brown jacket on the aisle. then we'll do another round. >> ken meyercourt, i produce "civil discord." what is the status of president obama's proposal to upgrade our nuclear arsenal? and if implemented what is its impact on the budget likely to be? >> great. bob, you want to start? take both or just take one. >> let me talk to the nuclear question. nuclear arsenal is still a relatively small part of the defense budget. i want to say and these numbers aren't in my head like they used to be but probably 5%. i suspect this administration will move forward with the obama plans which included things like the ohio class submarine and a number of other -- and then go
further. and in terms of perhaps modernizing the land based deterrent more aggressively than the obama administration had in mind. certainly a significant bombers, which is going forward under the obama administration but did not make a commitment to it. so i would expect we would see obama and then more. the president has been adamant about his commitment to nuclear weapons. so i'd be surprised if we didn't see an increase there. >> tom, any comments? >> yeah. just on the nuclear -- one quick thought on the other question. i think the president's been very, very clear that he does sort of favor modernization. but i do think that there's one issue on the table because of his stated views that maybe -- maybe that have been on the
table for a while. and with the extent to the deterrents. i think they need to take steps to shore that up because his comments frankly on alliances raise a doubt about the commitment to extend it to terms. so i think to the modernization mix, i think we have to add sort of reinforcing extended deterrents as sort of the key purpose of his sort of national security defense policy going forward. i'm probably not the best person to answer the first question but i do agree with the questioner that i think that there is the -- that the emphasis on the overall sort of force numbers i think could come at the risk of innovation or indeed other things. i think that's what i was trying to get at by saying that it's important to try to convey to the president that it is a more sort of complex mix. and that strength is not just about those top line numbers. >> i'm going to answer the
capability versus capacity question because secretary hale knows we spent hours and hours in -- on the third floor of the pentagon talking about what as we conduct the draw down, what's the right mix to ensure that we don't unbalance the force? since you've read the memo secretary mattis' memo was clear -- program balance. i think when we talk about the overall growth of the armed forces it's the pace that matters. so it's the speed that matters. as you grow the force you have to make sure that you've got the capability to match to these new soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines going forward. because if you grow too fast you will in fact -- you have to take from the operations and maintenance accounts to pay for it. if you grow in a prudent way and you make sure you've got the capability matched to the individuals and wholistically for the services when it comes
to training, facilities, when it comes to training and professional development, when it comes to the actual costs for each of the individuals that we bring on to the service, if you do that over a period of time, and it's predictable, then it's certainly possible. and secretary mattis has been very clear. we need to make sure that we balance that growth with -- and don't break healthy programs that will need -- we'll need in the next five to ten years. >> thank you. so we'll go to the second round of questions now. start here in the front row. if we could, please. then we'll go over here. >> hi, there. i'm ingrid johnson. i'm a freelance writer. and i think this is a great conversation on national security issues. a great overview. so my question is, well, i feel like this event was a good overview of defense priorities of the brookings institute. so my question to you is do you think that the president is listening to conversations like
this and do you think he has the mental capacity to engage meaningfully with it? >> no tweets about brookings yet. so far so good. >> thank you, david rabinowitz. today, a lot of jobs that used to be done by active military personnel who had been at least through basic training and were available for other military assignments if necessary are being done by civilian contractors who don't have that training. i was wondering would it make sense to bring those jobs back into the military so you increase the active military personnel while having relatively little impact on the cost perhaps even saving costs? >> why don't we start this round with tom who can defend brookings' honor as he sees fit and then go to bob and mike. >> just on the first question,
you know, i see a few cameras here so i guess it depends whether or not there's a clip on "morning joe" or "fox & friends" and then he'll see it. but otherwise probably not. i do think it is actually an important question because he clearly is not intellectually curious in the sense of looking at the broader debate of these issues. but then he has appointed these people to these positions who are. i mean, secretary mattis and hr mcmaster are probably two of the most widely read, you know, officers of -- you know, of any generation in terms of their sort of interests in these broader debates. so the administration i think -- i say this as someone who has been quite critical and skeptical of them. i think that has been one of the few sort of positive, you know, things, developments.
so there are multiple ways i think for those folks on the outside who are working these issues to ensure that those arguments are heard from within the administration. but not necessarily from the oval office. i do think that the big question really is how this all plays out in this internal composition of ideas particularly when you have someone like the chief strategist steve bannon who would be read in a different direction, listening to different debates and ideas. what happens when sort of he bumps up against the more traditionalist forces? but you know it's going to be a very different time i think. there are -- i don't think we totally know how that sort of battle of ideas will play out. it's -- it will be quite unusual. so i do agree with that. >> secretary hale? >> so to your question first, you know, i'm acutely as aware of a former political appointee
that i'm out of office. it's kind of like being dead so i tried to focus on what secretary mattis and the president have said when i talked about priorities. mattis said that russia is his highest priority. the president has mentioned isis repeatedly. readiness, mattis made a big point of that. and he also as i said earlier enforced an aggressive business reform. i think i would expect to see those priorities in his budget. if not, i think it's fair to ask why he's changed his mind. so i was trying to get that trump administration view even if it isn't always my own. i couldn't agree more that we need to look at the mix of personnel. generally speaking military personnel are more expensive than civilian employees. contractors on how they're used but there are cases that we need the military, obviously and there are cases that we can't use contractors because of
inherently governmental. we need to step back and ask -- maybe a good way to start and something that the congressional budget office did that was interesting and the services have done to an extent, ask how the services vary in the way they handle certain routine activities in terms of mix of personnel. you find quite wide differences. it's not the end of the debate. but it's a starting point for asking questions about what the cheapest mix is. i can't answer your question definitely because i don't think that study has been done. i'm not aware of an overall look throughout the obama administration, i'm not sure even before that. i think it's high time that we did it given all the concerns about civilians and contractors. >> mike? >> i'm going to extend the answer from secretary hale. i agree with everything that he said. and in addition, as part of that look, i mean, really the services need to look at what
are dual military and what we would consider civilian stay at home capabilities. and make sure that even when they are -- when we've got some overlap the importance of if you hand i it all over to the civilians or contractors what does that do to the deployable force? i'll use the example of civil engineers in the air force, civil engineers who used to be running for running the entire installation, the entire base. when we -- when the service, when the air force moved that to an almost an entirely civilian contractor responsibility, what we found is that the draw down for civil engineers -- combat civil engineers that we needed to deploy the actual numbers were just too small. so as part of that mix we really need to take a hard look at for those dual capabilities what numbers do we need in order to be effective across all the
services. >> thank you. another round. gentleman here in the sixth row and the woman here in the third row. yeah. >> good morning. my name is dominic kramer. my question is we focus a lot obviously this president isn't really thinking in grand strategic terms. we know of people in his administration are. what he is actually focused on seems to be where he can take credit in contracts or new programs or things we have talked about for procurement. so my question is primary for the general coming from industry now, but where do you see the president looking for competition in the defense industry and what's likely to catch his attention and where -- what should catch his attention as a priority in the broader context? >> then one more question here in the third row, please. >> hi, i'm caitlyn kinney. my question is what you guys
discussed earlier about how the administration concerns are about russia and isis. but do you see another region, another conflict around the world that might be an even bigger concern? you know, there's all that -- all the issues in africa and the middle east, the pacific that you mentioned. europe. do you see any other big issues over the next four years they have to work on? >> great. so let's start with general moeller and come this way. >> let me take the second question first. i'm convinced that the department is going to take -- the new national strategy is going to look at the global environment. the strategic environment. and they're going to take a hard look not just at the theaters as they are now. but in fact actually identify and -- identify potential future hot spots. and then -- again, what are the capabilities we need, the rapid
deployment capabilities that the services need in order to get to those unpredicted -- unpredictable or pop-up spots if you will. so that would be from my perspective. on the second piece, every administration -- at least in my career especially in my time spent in working in budgeting and program development, every administration has taken a very hard look at the defense institutional defense both from a costs perspective as well as from what's the capability that you're getting? is it delivered on time? and is it on cost? so those fundamental questions run through every administration. so nothing different there. i would argue that if you want to talk about actual how we need to function as a department going forward, the department of defense going forward if you really want to -- really want to look at how you're going to get to on cost, on time and you're
going to get speed, that is you're going to bring acquisition programs from ten years to three, you need to do four things. first you need to reform the acquisition system process. which mr. kendall did get after with better buying power. i think we were up to 4.0 when he left. but that has to -- that better buying power started at the secretary level and worked down. but it didn't make it through all of the layers down to the acquisition -- individual acquisition and contracting officers. you need to take a hard look and go all the way to the very -- to the very tip of the spear when it comes to getting new programs so that's the first. the second is -- the second is that you have to have -- ask for support from congress to get
budgets on time. and as i talked about earlier i think longer -- a promise of more than five years. you really have to get after a long term funding stability if you want to talk about getting fast. the third is that it's a contract between the services and industry. the services have to provide clear requirements and they have to commit to the -- to the funding profile and program. industry then has to match that commitment and deliver the capabilities and they have to do it on time and they have to do it on cost. if you do those four things, sounds easy, right? very easy, if you do the four things you'll get after what the president is focused on. >> tom? >> yeah, on the second question, i probably should have said this earlier. i think the president has been very clear about his priorities. his first priority in terms of the regions is the middle east.
number one isis, number two iran. his second is asia. number one, china, number two north korea. and the third by some distance is europe. but he really doesn't care about europe. he really thinks i think that it's largely irrelevant or that it's actually a problem in terms of the eu and so the first -- the first comment i would make -- that is not the view of secretary mattis. that is not the view of secretary tillerson and not the view of the national security adviser, but it's the view of the president very clearly. i think one of the jobs that his cabinet is to sort of underscore that europe may be the most pressing problem that he could face and that european problems tend to be worse when they emerge than problems elsewhere. they ought to keep an eye on that. so that will be the first comment. the second is that, you know, u.s. strategy for many decades has been largely to keep a lid on international problems. lot of -- whether it's india or
pakistan or anything you can understand, the u.s. is trying to limit that. the president had been clear that he doesn't really see a role for the united states in play -- in that sort of diplomacy and long term sort of defense policy reassurance. but those problems will emerge. i mean, we don't know -- i think it's impossible to predict what they are. but whether it's the collapse of the venezuelan regime or a problem inside asia or something else, they will emerge. i think it's really important again that the mindset particularly within the oval office is that the u.s. has an important role to play. the cabinet secretaries i think want to play the role but they need to be sort of empowered and allowed to do so by the president. >> so i'm guilty of the russian and isis and that was a sho shorthand obviously you have heard of a more sophisticated set of threats.
bob gates used to say we're 100% accurate in where we have to fight next, we always get it wrong. balance is the key because as your question suggested we're not sure where the next threat will come from. >> i'm going to add a couple of words on these as well, picking up where bob left off. of course sometimes we're successful in deterring a threat we can identify. and that's why we wind up fighting in a place we didn't anticipate. secretary gates put it in a pithy provocative way. and the scenarios, one of them an advanced advertisement that i'm finishing with a general. we have have been doing a paper on the global security in the urban areas. he was the army chief of staff, commissioned a big study on mega cities and likes to point out that we now have for the first time in human history more than half of all people living in
major areas or cities of all time and that number will go to two-thirds by mid century. and we're going to have several dozen mega cities of 10 million or more around the world. so rather than thinking just in terms of countries and regions think also in terms of cities. and it doesn't mean that somebody is going to all of a sudden create a five division force out of karachi to attack some other country. what it means is that the cities can present a combination of crime, terrorism, cartels. sometimes in countries with weapons of mass destruction or the potential for outbreaks of disease. and what happens in cities? often growing and fairly uncontrollable ways in developing mega slum areas that are hard for authorities to reach. that's another dimension to national security planning is aware of. donald trump is not going to want any part of the conflicts but none of the rest of us do
too. but sort of calls to mind the old bolshevik saying, you may not have an interest in war but war may have an interest in you and the problems in the big cities are not ones we can easily ignore depending on when and how they develop. one point on the weapons, industry question if you don't mind. i'm aware that i'm speaking to this issue with representative of a company that makes the excellent engine for the f-35. but also the excellent engine for a number of other aircraft, including the f-16. donald trump has talked about the f-35, the lightning 2. i'll just say i have been a critic of the size of this program. but let me say three things in its defense which underscore the difficulty of identifying a big program as a way to all of a sudden solve our problems. first of all, the f-35 is a good plane so whatever its limits, you know, it's not super long range. but it is looking pretty good. took a little longer than it
should have. it's stealthy, it's high performance. electronically very sophisticated. it's a good plane. one of the things you can do to solve the problem is reduce the number we buy. you get a efficiency for buying more not only here in the department of defense, but abroad. i'm in favor of reducing the scale of the buy, but i acknowledge when you work through the math in a way that bob heal taught me at cbo 25 years ago you wind up recognizing that any time you make a program smaller, even if you do it a very well planned out way you increase the unit costs and eat up some of the savings. so those points i think are worth keeping on the table as we think about how hard it is to solve an f-35 funding problem. we can go on but i'll leave it at that. we have a question in the far back. >> hi, i'm from the federal news radio. i had a capability -- capacity
question. with all the pressures that are on the defense department for budget, even with the $750 billion budget or something like that it's almost impossible to ramp up the capacity and capability to what ash carter has and what donald trump would want at the same time. so i guess my question is, you know, what is the fate of ash carter's initiatives from the past couple years, things like diux and also capability in general for the future. >> let's take one more as usual. go to the gentleman over here standing against the wall in the red tie. >> i'm dan roper from the association of the united states army. could you comment on strategic deployabili deployability. the infrastructure is aging. we don't have enough ships or planes to get this bigger force to the places that we can't predict precisely. so a lot of our strategic shu l
shuchls -- assumptions are based on the fact we can get all the capability there. it will get tougher as the force expands. >> general, you want to start with that? >> i do. i alluded to that earlier about growing too fast. and not talking -- not really doing the drill down, the deep analysis into the second and third order of effects. i would argue that the department needs to look very hard at strategic deployability. and includes concepts that we may end up having to go back to because of the constraints that we have on sea and airlift. we may in fact actually see that forward deployed forces with the larger footprint depending on the regions that the administration focuses on in the national security strategy, that might be the only answer in order to get through the short falls on lift. so there are a number of other options but i would expect that the department to take a hard look when you grow the force you
have to be -- you have to be able to get the force to the region, to the theater. that's an absolutely great question and something i think is very, very important. the other piece is, i'll also go back to the previous response about i think that secretary carter's initiatives as well as the experiment -- getting the services back into experimentation is critically important to solving that capacity and capability balance challenge going forward as well. if you -- if you continue -- if the services -- if the department continues on the traditional path of this is how we have always done it, we tried it before and it didn't work, and as we move forward into the futuristic programs -- future programs that secretary talked about in the 2020s, then we will not -- the department will not be able to get there.
so i really think they're even nor important than -- more important than in the past. >> tom? >> just one comment really following up on that answer. the president i think has been long term skeptic of forward deployed forces so it's really interesting to see how this plays out. he essentially believes that they're -- the forward deployed forces are a trick by allies to take advantage of the united states. and that there's really no purpose to having them. but clearly, that's not where again most of the people in his administration are. nor is it where the general debate is. so i think it will be interesting to see how that plays out and whether he's moveable sort of on that issue to see that it is sort of crucial to dealing with the strategic threats and challenges. >> secretary hale? >> so i suspect the -- i'll address the carter initiatives. the worlds all change and bush used the war on terrorism and the obama administration doesn't want that term used at all.
i don't know if we'll hear force of the future again but the groundwork that has been laid in innovation and some of the recruiting concepts that carter was pushing i think will be kept to the extent they're seen as useful. and i think many of them are. and they'll build on those and they'll have some new opportunities to do it because they're likely to have some added resources. so i mean, the names may change. but many of the concepts i think will remain in place. >> i'm going to add one word on lift and transport. in addition to capacity, you know, we all say this but we have to keep thinking about vulnerability and we're so used to fighting in places where infrastructure and major transportation hubs are uncontested. and no matter how many times we remind ourselves of that fact it's so deeply ingrained into our dna after 30 years of operation desert storm, balkan
deployments, the war on terror, whatever you want to call it where we had a lot of threats on the ground tactically but we didn't have threats to the broader regional infrastructure. at least not the staging basis. and it's going to be very hard. so i think -- i would use the word vulnerability or achilles heels. and mike moeller has talked extensively today about cyber and training for chemical or other weapons of mass destruction. we have to keep doing that. and we have to keep thinking of the vulnerability of the space systems, and it's the infrastructure that they use to load and unload and stage which i think is undoubtedly going to be a greater risk in the future than it's been for the last generation. let's take another round. we'll go to the gentleman standing in the back and here to the gentleman in the sixth row in the blue shirt. >> north korea -- john donnelly with congressional quarterly. north korean and iranian missile
tests are not new. russian spy ships off our atlantic coast not new. but there's a perception since the inauguration that u.s. adversaries have stepped up the provocation and that it's a test for donald trump. my question is, should the president respond with some kind -- in some way in order to signal the credibility of u.s. deterrence and what kind of things should he keep in mind as he thinks about how to respond to these provocations? >> thank you. and then the question here, yes. >> my name is mohammed nimer, american university. a question on the israeli/palestinian issue. president trump threw out a long standing policy since george shultz recognized the plo.
what effect does this have on the u.s. readiness? >> because we have only six minutes, i'm going to take two more and hope for a match of one response -- you might need to take notes. but these are more foreign policy questions in the trump administration. yes, sir. we'll do one more. front row after that. >> thank you very much alexander kravitz from inside iraq. i wanted to pick up on the mention of allies. president trump is, you know, reluctant about europe generally. i'm wondering in one of the charges is that, you know, the europeans are not carrying their fair share. so the question is, what cou could -- should they do in terms of increased spending and if they do how would that change the picture of what, you know, we have been talking about here today? >> great. then the last question. then we'll wrap up here with
concluding answers. >> yeah, this is a broad strategic question. my name is gerald rose, i'm with the executive intelligence review. there is on the planet a very serious effort on the part of china and russia and now japan to create what's called the one belt, one road initiative. which the open offer to president trump has been made repeatedly that a strategic -- a new way of thinking about strategy has to be on the table which emphasizes infrastructure development. that it's the poverty, it's the hopelessness. it's the overall decline where that creates these strategic threats. and therefore what china has
done in particular has put 20,000 kilometers of high speed rail linking china. now we have dig beauty, you have japan who has proposed to president trump building high speed rail. i think it's very important that we not be cynical and really rethink what the potentials are given these initiatives. >> okay. thank you. so why don't we start with general moeller and take one or two of the questions as we wrap up. >> i think i'll take the question from the back about has anything changed -- not besides perception, has anything changed when it comes to theater presence, posture and operations around the globe since the inauguration.
from my perspective, the continuity is really from the theater combatant commanders. none of them have changed and in fact actually their advice, insights and guidance to both the secretary of defense and president on responses for provocations or actual changes in the status around the globe, that has not -- at least from what i have seen in the public has not changed at all. so my confidence in the combatant commanders providing their guidance as well as ensuring that u.s. military forces are accomplishing the full spectrum of operations today is unbroken. no change. but i want to go back to where we started and that five years from now, ten years from now, the combatant commanders and the
department of defense needs to focus very, very clearly on what do they need in order to fight their way in for deployments, and fight their way with the adversary. i mean, there are multiple challenges for the future and that's where the department is focused, at least from a funding, resourcing and strategy perspective. and the department is going to have to make tough choices, ladies and gentlemen. you can't do it all, you can't keep it all and you can't pay for it all so that's where i see the real challenges. not in the execution in current operations with -- within the theaters. >> thank you. tom? >> yeah, this comment on the first and the third question. i agree with the general, i don't think there's been a qualitative change in terms of what adversaries are doing since
january 20th, but it could happen sooner and it could happen about ambiguity about the commitments. and the president may not respond to aggression in asia or europe and russia is starting to probe a little bit to get the temperature of the administration. i think a lot of that is to -- not all of it, but some is solvable and with one step the president should give a speech on alliances and reaffirm america's commitment to security guarantees and to those alliances. he has not done that yet. his secretaries have done that. they have said that at open testimony in speeches but he's not said it. and when -- as you saw with the press conference with the british prime minister when she said, i'm 100% committed to nato, he was shifting in his seat and he begrudgingly said maybe i said that. he needs to be very clear in a
speech and like that -- i think it will help a lot. because it will just demonstrate that u.s. policy has not changed. briefly on the third question on europe, europe should spend more, should meet the 2% target for sure but this is largely a crisis of the president's making. right? this is not a -- this is not something i think that is the most pressing problem in europe. the most pressing problem in europe is russian aggression under the internal problems of european integration. elevating this to the level that he has, i think it creates ambiguity over the other issues. europeans would also point out that you could -- you know, you can measure commitment in different ways. i mean, half of european countries fought in iraq and most fought in afghanistan. some of them paid a heavy price politically and other ways for that. that was a sign of commitment i think to the alliance that's not necessarily captured in the defense spending numbers.
so european nations definitely need to do more but i think the president needs to have a more balanced approach to this whole issue. huge test of that will be the nato summit coming up that he's going to attend. >> thank you. >> so let me address the burden sharing question maybe from a different angle than tom. we have been trying for years to get our wealthier nato allies to do more without much success. gates gave a hard speech toward the end of his tenure. i'm hopeful that trump's elevating this might put some pressure on them because they do need to do more in my view and they acknowledge it, but they don't do it. but at the same time, they probably need to rethink how they spend their money. they're compared to our budgets going to be modest. maybe they need to pick particular areas. maybe it's lift, where they concentrate -- not to say they have nothing elsewhere. but i'm not so sure the british still need a nuclear deterrent if they can't spend more.
it's at least worth asking so some focusing of their attention on areas that would aid the overall alliance as well as some added spending i would hope would satisfy our new president. >> i will say two last words on the outstanding questions of the israeli/palestinian ongoing issue and then global infrastructure and so forth. very briefly, on israelis and palestinians it's true that president trump had ambivalence to the two state solution. if you do back and you dissect what he said, he basically said, listen, i can live with whatever the parties can live with which is a fairly unobjectionable comment. and nikki haley later confirmed -- by the way she has been spectacular so far on a number of issues where she's -- as tom said it's not enough for the u.n. ambassador or secretary of defense to always clarify things. the president needs to worry about it as well.
but her comment that we still of course support a two state solution is helpful and to me reassuring. on the broad question you raised i'm going to make a comment that may or may not speak to it. it's a tying together of all the different situations where -- we're discussing today. but yes the united states has a lot of challenges. china rising, ohher countries creating infrastructure, you know, better bases, china expanding the access. you know, of all the countries in the world i would prefer our problems over anybody else's. if you think about the way we look at the world today, we still have that $600 billion military budget. we're worried up here about whether it's enough. thank god we can have that conversation when we have a resource base that allows us to have that. that's about 35% of world total military spending but it doesn't guarantee that you'll succeed in any given conflict. the next 35% of world military spending is in the western
alliance system as well. all of our allies despite their underspending we have have so many of them because the western community of neighs has become so strong and enduring. partly because we're sort of a la carte. if you fight with us, you don't, you sit itto out. for all of our mistakes, i don't mean to do a poor imitation of bob kagan or anyone up here, but for all of our mistakes we have about 70% of world gdp and military spending loosely aligned under a western system. when you combine that with the advantage economically of maritime trade, where trade is still a lot better than rail lines through siberia with all due respect to our chinese and russian -- if i had to choose between putting them on ships or the rails in eurasian i'll take the former in a heart beat. we're well positioned for the globalizing economy and other reasons as well.
so when president trump said he inherited a mess, in one sense you can have some sympathy because he hasn't done foreign policy and now he has to deal with 17,000 issues and a lot of them are hard. some are truly dangerous. on the other hand, the strategic position from which he is poised to address them is basically unrivaled in history. and for all of the challenges to world order that tom writes about and you should buy his book and the next few years -- last few years of setbacks we are still in a historically strong position. we have the best allies in the world. so i don't mean to do a poor imitation of either bob kagan or john belushi in the animal house speech but i'll finish on that note. let me thank you for coming today and please join me in thanking the panel.